Well, despite the cold front that recently dumped record amounts of snow in some parts of the U.S., the calendar suggests Spring has officially begun (and, from what I hear Punxutawney Phil is charged with a felony for making a false forecast). On college campuses all across our great nation, young co-eds are eagerly anticipating the news that usually accompanies this time of year (at least this occurs at George Fox University and I imagine many other Christian colleges).
Ladies: have you procured your coveted “ring by spring?” All around your friends are getting engaged (or, more likely, experiencing angst over the engagement ring that has not emerged yet). Oh well, I’m sure it is just around the corner, and since EVERYONE is pining to be married, preparing to be married, or dreaming about marriage (judging by how popular this topic is on most every “Christian” website) I suggest this must be time to consider how compatible your potential partner is.
Thankfully, John Piper has put together a questionnaire specifically designed to help engaged couples (ok; so you aren’t engaged yet, this still applies to you in the future because EVERYONE gets married in the minds of popular Christian speakers/authors/writers) answer any questions they may have as they prepare to tie the knot.
You’ll want to start with the ever important basics such as what do you believe about everything because, you know, you need to have all this determined by the time you get married just to ensure you aren’t unequally yoked. Besides, if you haven’t fully determined the scope of your theology by the time you marry, what in God’s name have you been doing? I mean, I had completely figured God out by the time I was 23.
Related to your understanding of God you’ll need to be clear about what Piper calls headship and submission, you know, allowing Piper’s patriarchal preferences to convince you that men are designed to be in charge and women created to be subordinate to them.
Once your theology is complete, you may want to move to the more mundane questions: will you watch television? If so, in what room (personally, I don’t understand this question since it is clear there must be a television in the bedroom in order to provide access to mind-numbing hours of CNN or MSNBC as anecdotes to insomnia)? Will that be from 7:00-10:00 pm on Tuesdays or Fridays? And, who will decide what movies you’ll watch, if any? Will you limit your movies to PG13 or are some R-rated movies morally acceptable? Or, my favorite quandary: where will you purchase your clothes because all of us identify these kinds of things years in advance.
Before your future spouse drops over from boredom going through Piper’s check-list, perhaps this would be a good time to consider who should initiate sex and how often you will have it, because, obviously, this is the kind of thing you should determine at this point in your relationship. You may want to get these decisions written down, by the way. Such documentation will alleviate any misunderstandings or troublesome spontaneity. While you’re at it, you may want to decide how much each partner will enjoy sex at any given moment, maybe even create a rating system of sorts. You can keep track of each session on a wall-mounted board you keep in the bathroom.
Moving on to the more important questions, Piper thinks it is best to determine who will do various chores around the house such as laundry or mowing, cooking or cleaning. It’s a good thing he doesn’t consider this real work, since he takes up that section later where he provides space for the couple to decide whether or not the wife will work outside the home. Nope: no consideration for the male spouse here. Tough luck: looks like you men are definitely bringing home the bacon since there should be one main bread-winner.
Children, too, are on Piper’s list of pre-marital questions including not only how many and how they will be spaced but also where they will be educated and how affection will be demonstrated.
Frankly, as I look through Piper’s essential check-list for engaged couples, I wonder how in the world Bryan and I have navigated so many years of marital bliss without Piper’s questions. But now that I’ve found this document, you can imagine we will put it in appropriate service right away, starting with acknowledging things that make us angry: when people assert personal preferences as equivalent to divine decrees. Now that would be something for us to discuss.